Bach: Brandenburg Concerto No. 1; Brandenburg Concerto No. 2; Brandenburg Concerto No. 3; Brandenburg Concerto No. 4; Brandenburg Concerto No. 5; Brandenburg Concerto No. 6; Concerto in A minor for Harpsichord, Violin, Flute and Strings, BWV 1044; Concert

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Bach
LABELS: Philips
WORKS: Brandenburg Concerto No. 1; Brandenburg Concerto No. 2; Brandenburg Concerto No. 3; Brandenburg Concerto No. 4; Brandenburg Concerto No. 5; Brandenburg Concerto No. 6; Concerto in A minor for Harpsichord, Violin, Flute and Strings, BWV 1044; Concerto in D
PERFORMER: CPE Bach CO/Peter Schreier
CATALOGUE NO: 434 918-2 DDD
With dozens of Brandenburg recordings available, what hope for another to say something new? Astonishingly, Schreier and his exemplary team do just that, with deliberately fashioned phrasing and scrupulous concern for detail. The string playing is detached to match the wind tonguing, yet it never loses its sense of purpose and direction.

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I found the third Brandenburg quite outstanding, with transparent textures and impeccable care over the constantly shifting balance of solo interjections. It’s very finely structured by the players’ sensitive judgement not just of volume but also of intensity. In the notorious Second Concerto, authentic recorder vies with modern oboe, violin and trumpet. Yet even here balance comes primarily from the players rather than from intrusive engineering. Few performances can have been more carefully prepared.

Thanks partly to purposeful slow movements, there is room for the triple concerto for flute, violin and harpsichord – matching the Fifth Brandenburg – and, a particular gem, the lost concerto for three violins reconstructed from its extant harpsichord version.

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These discs are wonderfully fresh at first hearing. Despite its distinctive expressiveness, I think it will wear well. From their uncompromising stylistic standpoint – authenticity of spirit on non-period instruments – Schreier and his players are outstanding. George Pratt